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Title:
SYSTEM FOR ROAD USER SAFETY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/144744
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure is directed to a system of two or more connected devices that provide a warning signal to a vulnerable road user, a motor vehicle, or both, under certain conditions.

Inventors:
BROVOLD SHAWN T (US)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2021/062308
Publication Date:
July 07, 2022
Filing Date:
December 24, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES CO (US)
International Classes:
E01F9/582; G08G1/01
Domestic Patent References:
WO2018050945A12018-03-22
Foreign References:
KR102181222B12020-11-20
US20050270175A12005-12-08
US6384742B12002-05-07
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VIETZKE, Lance L. et al. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
We claim

1. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other device; wherein the processor is configured to determine which device(s) receive the independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user.

2. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user, o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user, wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other marker; wherein the processor is configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user and the location of the other devices.

3. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user, o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user, wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other marker; wherein the processor is configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user and the location of the road. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user, o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user, wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other marker; wherein the processor is configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user and, wherein the processor determines the location of the vulnerable road user and/or determines the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user based on input from the at least one sensor from one or more devices. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user, o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user, wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other marker; wherein the processor is configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user and, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect the presence of a motor vehicle and the processor is further configured to: i) determine the location of the motor vehicle, and ii) track the movement of the motor vehicle.

6. A road safety system comprising:

• two or more devices, each device comprising: o an alert source, o at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user, o a processor configured to : a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user, wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other marker; wherein the processor is configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user and, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect the presence of a motor vehicle and the processor is further configured to: i) determine the location of the motor vehicle, and ii) determine the direction of movement of the motor vehicle, wherein if the location and direction of movement of the motor vehicle meets a given criteria, the processor sends a second independent message to at least one other device that is different from the first independent message.

7. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the processor is further configured to determine which marker(s) receive the first independent message based on the location of the other devices.

8. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the independent message to the at least one device comprises one or more of the following messages: a vulnerable road user was detected; turn device alert source on, turn the marker’s alert source on following a specific pattern, turn the device’s alert source off, change the intensity of the device’s alert source, turn the device’s alert source on with a specific frequency, turn the device’s alert source on for a given period of time, wherein the alert source is chosen from a light source, audible source, vibration source, and a combination thereof.

9. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a sensor’s detection range for a vulnerable road user overlaps with the range of another sensor.

10. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a sensor’s detection range for a vulnerable road user does not overlap with the range of another sensor.

11. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the processor determines the location of the vulnerable road user and/or determines the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user based on input from the at least one sensor from one or more devices.

12. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the processor determines the location of the vulnerable road user and/or determines the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user based on input from at least two sensors, each from a different marker.

13. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the alert source is chosen from light sources, speakers, and vibration sources.

14. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the location of the two or more devices is chosen from mid-block, along one or both sides of a roadway, and along a median.

15. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the two or more devices are at an intersection and/or a cross walk.

16. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor is chosen from camera, ultrasonic, passive infrared, radar, single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array, lidar, Bluetooth angle of arrival/angle of departure, and combinations thereof.

17. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising one of more of the following components: two-way wireless radio, an antenna.

18. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect the presence of a motor vehicle.

19. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect the presence of a motor vehicle and the processor is further configured to:

21 i) determine the location of the motor vehicle, and ii) determine the direction of movement of the motor vehicle. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect the presence of a motor vehicle and the processor is further configured to: a) determine the location of the motor vehicle, b) determine the direction of movement of the motor vehicle, and wherein if the location and movement of the motor vehicle meets a given criteria, the processor sends a second independent message to at least one other device that is different from the first independent message. A road safety system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor is further configured to detect movement of a vulnerable road user.

22

Description:
SYSTEM FOR ROAD USER SAFETY

The present disclosure is directed to a system of two or more connected devices that provide a warning signal to a vulnerable road user, the driver of a motor vehicle, or both, under certain conditions.

BACKGROUND

Vulnerable road users (VRUs) put themselves at risk any time they are crossing, sharing, or moving adjacent to a roadway where motor vehicles are operating. Common scenarios where potential conflict occurs between VRUs and motor vehicles include VRU’s crossing a roadway at mid-block location, crossing at a dedicated crosswalk or intersection, biking adjacent to a roadway, and walking or biking in a shared lane of travel.

To address crossing at controlled intersections, most cities have pedestrian signals synchronized with traffic lights, as well as manually-actuated lighting systems. To address midblock crossing, some cities have installed pedestrian signals at dedicated locations away from intersections. However, significantly fewer solutions can address VRU movement along entire stretches of roadway between intersections, such as crossing at multiple mid-block locations or when the VRU is moving adjacent to a roadway or in a shared lane of travel.

The present disclosure provides a system of two or more connected devices that provide advance warning to a vulnerable road user (VRU), the driver of a motor vehicle, or both at least under the circumstances listed above.

SUMMARY

Crossing the street at mid-block locations is especially dangerous for VRUs, pedestrians for instance, because motor vehicles are travelling at their fastest in between intersections, and vehicle drivers may not be expecting the presence of a VRU crossing the roadway. As a result, most pedestrian fatalities occur at mid-block locations (away from controlled intersections).

VRUs may choose to cross at mid-block locations because they feel it is the quickest way to get to their destination across the street, rather than first moving to an intersection or dedicated crossing. This means that VRUs will cross wherever they feel it is convenient, which could be anywhere along a stretch of road between two intersections. For this reason, dedicated mid-block crossings may have limited benefit because their locations are limited. Additionally, obstructions along the roadway can limit the line of sight of both the drivers and VRUs, reducing the reaction time of both driver and VRU after their presence is detected by one another.

VRUs also face risks when moving along the side of the roadway. This is especially true when the VRU is a person riding a mobility device (e.g., bicycles, electric skateboards, selfbalancing scooters, etc.) and sharing the roadway with motor vehicles. These mobility users moving in the direction of the traffic have limited view of motorists approaching from behind and motorists may not be aware of them until the motor vehicle is too close to the VRU. This lack of mutual awareness may increase the likelihood of a collision between a motorist and a VRU.

The present disclosure provides an alert system that helps different types of VRUs and motorists become more aware of the presence of other road users. In one embodiment, the present disclosure is directed to a road safety system comprising: two or more devices, each device comprising:

• an alert source,

• at least one sensor configured to detect the presence of a vulnerable road user

• a processor configured to: a) determine the location of the vulnerable road user, and b) determine the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user wherein the processor of each device is configured to send a first independent message to at least one other device; wherein the processor is configured to determine which device(s) receive the independent message based on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user.

All scientific and technical terms used herein have meanings commonly used in the art unless otherwise specified. The definitions provided herein are to facilitate understanding of certain terms used frequently in this application and are not meant to exclude a reasonable interpretation of those terms in the context of the present disclosure.

Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers in the description and the claims expressing feature sizes, amounts, and physical properties used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term “about.” Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the foregoing specification and attached claims are approximations that can vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by those skilled in the art utilizing the teachings disclosed herein. At the very least, and not as an attempt to limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents to the scope of the claims, each numerical parameter should at least be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and parameters setting forth the broad scope of the invention are approximations, the numerical values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as possible. Any numerical value, however, inherently contains certain errors necessarily resulting from the standard deviations found in their respective testing measurements. The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers subsumed within that range (e.g., a range from 1 to 5 includes, for instance, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, and 5) and any range within that range.

As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an”, and “the” encompass embodiments having plural referents, unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. As used in this specification and the appended claims, the term “or” is generally employed in its sense including “and/or” unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

The term “vulnerable road user” refers to anyone capable of crossing road, or moving along the road, such as a pedestrian, a person riding a micromobility or personal transporter device, whether motorized or not, (e.g., bicycle, scooter, moped, Segway, skater board, etc. As used in this application, the term vulnerable road user excludes motor vehicles (see definition below). However, the term includes non-human entities, such as dogs, cats, deer, cattle, any 4- legged wild animal, etc.

The term “motor vehicle” refers to a self-propelled vehicle capable of transporting people or cargo. Examples of motor vehicles include automobiles, motorcycles, buses, vans, minivans, trucks, SUVs, etc. In most jurisdictions, a motor vehicle requires a license or permit to operate.

The term “alert source” in the context of this application refers to a source of one or more signals chosen from light, audible signals, vibration, and a combination thereof. Examples of a light source include light emitting diodes (LEDs), light guides, and combinations thereof. Examples of an audible source include sources that can produce or play back chimes, pre-recorded sounds, including voice messages, or any other audible signal. Examples of a vibration source include any source capable of vibrating or shaking a surface, regardless of whether the vibration follows a pattern or not. A vibration source as used in this application includes a source that itself can vibrate/shake and/or a source that can send a message to another separate item that may be located at a certain distance from the device (e.g., mat) that can vibrate/shake or produce a haptic signal upon receiving such message.

The purpose of an alert source if to notify a vulnerable road user and/or a motor vehicle driver of a certain events such as: a vulnerable road user is crossing or about to cross a roadway, a vulnerable road user (e.g., a cyclist or pedestrian) is riding/walking along a roadway, a motor vehicle or another VRU is approaching the location where a VRU is crossing or about to cross, a motor vehicle or another VRU is approaching a VRU that is riding or walking along a roadway, etc. Therefore, any item capable of producing such notification is encompassed by the term “alert source.”

In the context of this application, a “device” refers to the basic unit of the systems of this disclosure and comprises, at a minimum, of an alert source, at least one sensor, and at least one processor. An alert system comprises at a minimum two devices that are capable of communicating with each other. As used in this application, “determining the location” of an object, such as a VRU or a motor vehicle refers to the capability of a processor within a device A of determining the relative position of the object with respect to at least one of: the device A itself, other devices different from device A, another VRU, a motor vehicle, a reference point, and a combination thereof.

In the context of this application, “movement” of an object, such as a VRU or a motor vehicle, refers to a change in the location of that object.

As used in this application, “detecting the presence” of an object, such as a VRU or a motor vehicle, refers to determining whether the object is within the range of a sensor or not. Certain types of sensors can detect the presence of a VRU by detecting motion by the VRU, such as motion of the head, neck, torso, arms, and/or legs. Certain sensors may also be able to detect movement, but such requirement is optional.

As used in this application, “determining the direction” of movement of an object, such as a VRU or a motor vehicle refers to the capability of a processor within a device A of determining the direction in which the object is moving, relative to a coordinate frame known to device A. The coordinate frame may be established by the device sensor orientation, by installer calibration, or by processor self-calibration. In some embodiments, the direction of movement is determined by tracking the location of the object during at least two points in time and then comparing those locations. The determination of the speed of movement is not necessary to determine the direction of movement. However, in certain embodiments, it is advantageous to determine both the direction and the speed of movement of the object.

The term “independent message” in the context of this application refers to a message sent from a device to at least one other device, is not predetermined and is based on at least on the location and direction of movement of the vulnerable road user. The message may vary, and is determined, each time a sensor within the system detects a VRU. The recipients of the message are determined each time a message is created and/or being sent.

Examples of independent messages capable of being sent by a device to one or more devices include: a vulnerable road user was detected; turn device alert source on, turn the device’s alert source on following a specific pattern, turn the device’s alert source off, change the intensity of the device’s alert source, turn the device’s alert source on with a specific frequency, turn the device’s alert source on for a given period of time, etc.

The term “midblock” location in the context of this application refers to any location where a VRU may cross a roadway that is not marked as a crossing point. Intersection crossings, comer crossings, and midblock crossings that have been marked and/or signaled are excluded from the scope of the term midblock location.

The term “roadway” in the context of this application refers to any path where motor vehicles are intended to move along. A roadway includes roads, streets, freeways, highways, thoroughfares, etc., and those terms may be used synonymously in this disclosure. The above summary is merely intended to provide a cursory overview of the subject matter of the present disclosure and is not intended to describe each disclosed embodiment or every implementation of the present invention. The description that follows more particularly exemplifies illustrative embodiments. In several places throughout the application, guidance is provided through lists of examples, which can be used in various combinations. In each instance, the recited list serves only as a representative group and should not be interpreted as an exclusive list

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (pedestrian) is crossing a roadway at an intersection.

Figure 2 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (pedestrian) is crossing a roadway midblock, near an intersection.

Figure 3 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (cyclist) is traveling on a path adjacent a roadway (e.g., designated VRU lane).

Figure 4 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (cyclist) is traveling along a roadway sharing the roadway with a motor vehicle.

Figure 5 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (cyclist) is traveling along a roadway sharing the roadway with a motor vehicle, and the motor vehicle is encroaching on the path the VRU is using.

Figure 6 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (pedestrian) is crossing a roadway midblock.

Figure 7 represents an embodiment of the present disclosure when a VRU (pedestrian) is crossing a roadway midblock, and the VRU is reaching the other side of the roadway.

Figure 8 represents a simplified diagram of the process.

Figure 9 represents a VRU approaching a roadway.

Figure 10 represents a VRU approaching a roadway.

Figure 11 represents a VRU located outside the plane between the two devices moving towards First Detection Device.

Figure 12 represents a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device.

Figure 13 represents a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from both the First Detection Device and the roadway.

Figure 14 represents a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device and towards the other device in a path adjacent to the roadway (not on the roadway). Figure 15 represents a VRU located on the roadway in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device and towards the other device.

Figure 16 represents typical components for a device of the present disclosure.

Figure 17 represents an example of an enclosure for a light source.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For ease of illustration, various embodiments will be discussed in the context of a VRU being a pedestrian and/or a cyclist. However, the alert systems of this disclosure can equally be used when the VRU is not a pedestrian or a cyclist, including when the VRU is an animal crossing or moving along the roadway.

Generally, the present disclosure is directed to road safety systems comprising two or more connected devices located on or around a roadway that provide a warning signal to a VRU, the driver of a motor vehicle, or both under a variety of conditions. Typically, the warning signal alerts roadway users to the presence of other roadway users.

Road Safety System

In its most simple embodiment, a road safety system of the present disclosure comprises two devices placed along a roadway a certain distance from each other. The following description and explanation will be based on a system comprising only two devices but the same concepts apply to systems having more than two devices.

Each device comprises at least one sensor capable of detecting the presence of a VRU. The sensor may also be capable of detecting movement by the VRU. However, movement by a VRU may also be determined by a processor within the device that tracks the location of the VRU and is capable of not only determining that the VRU is moving or has moved, but also to determine the direction of movement of the VRU based on an analysis of at least two VRU locations.

In one embodiment, the device determines if a VRU is moving along a roadway or crossing the roadway by determining the angle of the direction of movement of the VRU relative to the road direction.

The device also comprises an alert source, which is used to produce a signal (e.g., blinking lights, audible signal, etc.) capable of capturing the attention of a VRU, a motorist, or both. In that manner, the VRU and/or motorist are alerted to the presence of other road users.

Once the device has detected the presence of a VRU and the processor has subsequently determined the direction of movement, then the device determines a course of action based on the location and direction of movement of the VRU. In some embodiments, the processor also determines the location, speed, and/or direction of a motor vehicle and such information is also considered when determining a course of action. In some embodiments, such course of action may include sending an independent message to the other device. In certain embodiments, the independent message may include the instruction to turn on the alert source on the second device (or to turn it off if the alert had been previously on).

Alternatively, the first device may determine that the second device does not need to be contacted and all alert actions with be taken only by the first device.

In some preferred embodiments, the device knows its relative position with respect to the roadway and/or the relative position of the other device(s) in the system. Such information may be used when determining which device(s) receives the independent message.

A simplified diagram of the process described above is show in Figure 8.

Various specific embodiments will be shown below to illustrate certain features of the instant road safety systems. In Figure 9, as a VRU (pedestrian) is approaching a roadway, a device (First Detection Device) detects the presence of the VRU in a plane between the two devices (in a region adjacent and on the right side of the roadway). The device determines that the VRU is moving towards the device(s) and determines to turn on the alert source in its own device (First Detection Device).

The device also determines that the second device needs to be contacted and broadcasts the message to turn on the alert source in that second device (alert source not shown “on” in the figure).

Figure 10 depicts a similar situation as in Figure 9 and is shown here to demonstrate that either device can act as a First Detection Device. Each device in the system is capable of detecting the presence of the VRU and acting according to the information received by its sensor(s).

Figure 11 shows a VRU located outside the plane between the two devices moving towards First Detection Device. Here, the direction of movement of the VRU would not intersect the roadway in a region between the devices. In this case, the output from the First Detection Device is only to trigger its internal alert source but does not contact the other device.

Figure 12 shows a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device. In this case, the reverse direction of movement of the VRU would intersect the roadway in a region between the devices. Here, the output from the First Detection Device is the same as the output as in Figure 9 (trigger its internal alert source and contact the other device to do the same).

This situation may occur subsequent to the scenario presented in Figure 9, after the VRU has started to cross the roadway.

In certain embodiments, the First Detection Device may continue to turn on its alert source and instruct the second device to the same for as long as the VRU is being detected. Alternatively, the First Detection Device may turn on its alert source and instruct the second device to the same for a given period of time after the VRU was detected or after the VRU started crossing the road. The skilled person will understand that a variety of options are available in terms of duration of the alert signal that will depend on the particular circumstances of the location where the road safety system is being installed.

Figure 13 shows a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from both the First Detection Device and the roadway. In this case, the reverse direction of movement of the VRU would intersect the roadway in a region between the devices. Here, the output from the First Detection Device is to take no action.

This situation may occur subsequent to the scenario presented in Figure 13, after the VRU has finished crossing the roadway. This output assumes that the First Detection Device knows the location of the roadway so that it can determine whether the VRU is moving towards or away from the roadway. In other scenarios where the direction of the VRU would intersect a plane between two devices, knowledge of the location of the roadway is not necessary, but it may supplement the input received by the First Detection Device. In some embodiments knowledge of the location of the roadway or the roadway direction can be determined through device alignment (e.g., during installation of the device), calibration, or calculation based on tracked vehicle movement.

Figure 14 shows a VRU located in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device and towards the other device in a path adjacent to the roadway (not on the roadway). Here, the output from the First Detection Device is to turn on its own alert source and instruct the second device to also turn its alert source.

Figure 15 shows a VRU located on the roadway in the plane between the two devices moving away from the First Detection Device and towards the other device. Here, the output from the First Detection Device is to turn on its own alert source and instruct the second device to also turn its alert source.

Although road safety systems have been described above in terms of systems having two devices, the skilled person will recognize that the concepts described above apply equally to systems comprising more than two devices. Select exemplary systems comprising more than two devices are described in more detail in the Examples section.

Device Components

Normally, a device may be constructed with components protected by an enclosure or housing. Typical components are shown in Figure 16. A device of the present disclosure may be self-contained as an independent unit or be part of another roadway asset, such as raised pavement markers, delineators, bollards, traffic cones, barrels, barricades, mile markers, median markers, street signs, etc.

Alert source

An alert source may produce light, audible signals, vibration, and a combination thereof. A typical purpose of an alert source if to draw the attention of a vulnerable road user and/or a motor vehicle driver to the presence of other road users, whether those other road users are VRUs or motorists. Therefore, any item capable of producing such notification can function as an alert source.

A light source is the preferred alert source because of its versatility, but the skilled person will recognize that other alert sources may be preferable, or combined with light sources, depending on the specific site characteristics and type of audience that is being reached. Examples of a light source include light emitting diodes (LEDs), or LEDs in combination with light guides.

Figure 17 shows an example of an enclosure for a light source. In one embodiment, the light source(s) could be pattered around the circumference (C) of device or along the vertical axis (H) of device. In certain embodiments, the light source is protected under a transparent covering and light output may be visible from all angles around the device or may be directional based on flow of traffic or movement of road users relative to the device.

Examples of an audible source include sources that can produce or play back chimes, prerecorded sounds, including voice messages, or any other audible signal, such as a speaker. Typically, the actual source of the audible signal is part of the device, but an audible source in the context of this application may also be a unit that can send a signal to a speaker or other source of sound located a certain distance from the device, that will produce the audible signal.

Examples of a vibration source include any source capable of vibrating or shaking a surface, regardless of whether the vibration follows a pattern or not. A vibration source as used in this application includes a source that itself can vibrate/shake and/or a source that can send a message to another separate item that may be located at a certain distance from the device (e.g., mat) that can vibrate/shake or produce a haptic signal upon receiving such message.

The alert signal may include a pattern that varies depending on the circumstances. For instance, a given pattern may be used when alerting a VRU of an approaching motor vehicle and a different pattern when a VRU in a personal micromobility device is approaching. The pattern could also include flashing, if the alert is visual, an increase in light intensity. The signal may also include a change in frequency. For visual signals the change in frequency means a change in color. For audible and vibrational signals, a change in frequency means a change in pitch and a change in the frequency of vibration in cycles per second respectively. The signal may also include sequential activation of the alert source in various devices.

Sensors

A required function of the sensor is its ability to detect the presence of a VRU within its detection range. In some embodiments, the sensor is also able to detect movement of the VRU. Movement in this context refers to a change in location of the VRU and does not refer to movement by the VRU of any limbs or body if the VRU is stationary. Sensors may detect the location and/or movement of a VRU through a variety of methods. Examples of sensors include camera, ultrasonic, radar, passive infrared (PIR), single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array LiDAR, or Bluetooth angle of arrival/angle of departure, and combinations thereof. In other embodiments, the device may also have bump detection, which could trigger illumination if the device is tapped or bumped.

In some embodiments, a single sensor may be used to focus on a specific area near the device, or a plurality of sensors could be used to increase the area of coverage surrounding the device.

In other embodiments, the sensor is also able to detect the presence of a motor vehicle as well as its movement.

Processor

The processor takes information from sensors and is then able to determine the location and the direction of movement of the vulnerable road user. Based on those assessment, the processor then determines the type of message to transmit to other devices in the system (if any) and which other devices (if any) receive the message.

The message is created independently each time and depends on the location and direction of movement of the VRU. Examples of possible messages from a device to other devices include: a vulnerable road user was detected; turn device alert source on, turn the device’s alert source on following a specific pattern, turn the device’s alert source off, change the intensity of the device’s alert source, turn the device’s alert source on with a specific frequency, turn the device’s alert source on for a given period of time, etc.

Power source

Power to the device can be supplied externally through a variety of means, such as a hardwired connection, replaceable or rechargeable batteries, solar panels in combination with a capacitive storage device, or a combination thereof.

Enclosure

All components are contained within the enclosure. The enclosure could be made from a material that provides durability, weather resistance, and wireless signal transparency.

The enclosure could serve as the base of a delineator, or a raised pavement marking, or be stand-alone to allow mounting on road edges, curbs, on top of delineators/bollards/channelizers.

Communication unit

The device is able to communicate with other devices, which means it has both a transmitter and a receiver suitable for sending and receiving the required messages. Preferred means of communication among the devices of the present disclosure is wireless, but in some embodiments, a hardwired connection may be desired.

System memory

Each device may have system memory to store programming logic and temporary information received form a sensor or regarding IDs of other devices in the system. Memory within the device may optionally store counts of VRU detection, type of VRU, VRU movement for later retrieval by traffic authorities who are interested in that information. Alternatively, such information may be transmitted to a separate piece of equipment capable of receiving such information.

In some embodiments, the system memory may be integrated with the processor, such as a system on chip (SoC), or it could be peripheral. In the case of a programmable controller, the memory could be read-only (ROM) or read-write.

EXAMPLES

In one example, the invention is a system of devices embedded or placed on or around a roadway used for detecting and tracking VRU and vehicle movement and then alerting either or both the VRU and the vehicle of their environment which includes VRUs and vehicles to which they may not be aware.

The invention includes 3 categories of VRU and vehicle interaction to consider, with variations within those categories. In a first category, the VRU is crossing the road at an intersection. In a second category, the VRU is traveling along a road. In a third category, the VRU is crossing the road at mid-block. Traveling along the road may be with flow of traffic or contra flow of traffic.

All of the categories may include the presence of a vehicle but there are benefits from the system where there are multiple VRUs and no vehicle is present. One example may include a cyclist traveling along the road while a pedestrian is crossing the road mid-block. The system may detect both VRUs and alert the cyclist of the pedestrian crossing the road and make the cyclist more visible to the pedestrian crossing the road.

Category 1 Examples - VRU crossing at an intersection

Category 1 examples include a VRU crossing at an intersection where the VRU may be crossing in a crosswalk or on either side of the crosswalk and where a vehicle or VRU may be approaching the intersection along the road.

In one example, a pedestrian 144 is crossing a crosswalk in a direction and speed 146. As the pedestrian is crossing the intersection, devices 116 114 106 108 detect the presence and determine the location and direction of the pedestrian, which may include the speed of the pedestrian. Those devices illuminate and send a message to near by devices to illuminate in a variety of configurations Table 1, Table 2, Table 3. In the case where a vehicle 140 or VRU is approaching the intersection along the road additional devices may alert Table 4 and cause devices around the pedestrian to change how they alert Table 5. In the case where the vehicle is traveling a speed or direction and speed that may be unsafe, the devices near the VRU and vehicle may change their alert to indicate to the VRU and vehicle to be cautious Table 6. The VRU approaching the intersection along the road may be on the road or in a designated lane 148. The alerts of the devices may be different depending on the location, speed, or vector of the VRU 144 and the location, speed, or vector of the vehicle 140. In some cases, the location and vector of a crossing pedestrian and the location and vector of the vehicle may not result in a change of device alerts beyond what may be present when a VRU is crossing the sidewalk without the presence of a vehicle Table 1.

Table 1. Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU (Figure 1) - On

Table 2. Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU (Figure 1) - heading

Table 3. Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU (Figure 1) - Single Side Table 4. Crosswalk Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU (Figure 1) - Approaching Vehicle or VRU along Road

Table 5. Crosswalk Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU (Figure 1) - Fast Approaching Vehicle or VRU along Road

In another category 1 example, a VRU crossing an intersection 244 in a direction at a speed 246 where the VRU is not in the crosswalk. The devices along the crosswalk detect and track the presence and movement of the VRU and alert devices to indicate to the VRU that they are not on the crosswalk Table 6. In the case where a vehicle 240 or VRU is approaching along a road or designated lane 248, devices near the vehicle or VRU approaching along the road may alert to indicate additional caution with a VRU crossing the intersection outside of the crosswalk Table 7.

Table 6. Crosswalk Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU outside of crosswalk (Figure 2) Table 7. Crosswalk Device Alert Configuration with crossing VRU outside of crosswalk and vehicle approaching intersection (Figure 2)

Category 2 Examples - VRU traveling along a road

Category 2 examples include a VRU traveling along a road which may include travel in a designated lane 310 410 510 orthe road 300 400 500 and where a vehicle may be present. In the case where a vehicle is present, the vehicle may be in a vehicle lane on the road 300 400 500 or it may be at least partially in a designated lane 310 410 510. In one example a cyclist is traveling in a lane designated for VRUs 310 and at least one device detects the presence and movement of the cyclist in the designated VRU lane and illuminates itself and devices about and in front of the cyclist to increase the visible presence of the cyclist and to help make the road more visible for the cyclist. Alert configurations for a VRU traveling in a designated VRU lane may include illumination in front of the VRU to help illuminate the way and flashing a color behind the cyclist to alert VRUs or vehicles behind the cyclist of the VRU presence Table 8 Table 9. In another case, when a vehicle is approaching or overtaking a cyclist in the vehicle’s designated lane at least one device in front of the cyclist changes the alert to make the cyclist aware that something is approaching them from behind or overtaking them Table 10.

Table 8. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road (Figure 3) - Solid Table 9. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road (Figure 3) - Gradient

Table 10. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road (Figure 3) - Approaching Vehicle

Category 2 examples also includes a case where a VRU 402 is traveling along the road 400 and either not in a designated VRU lane 410 or in the road where a designated VRU lane is not present. At least one device detects the presence and movement of the VRU and sends a message to nearby devices to alert Table 11. This may provide an indicator to the VRU that they are operating outside of a designated lane or that there is a vehicle approaching from behind. In the case where a vehicle is approaching at least one device may detect the presence and movement of the vehicle and send a message to other devices so they can alert the presence of the vehicle to a VRU who may not be aware of the vehicle Table 12.

Table 11. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road out of a designated VRU lane (Figure 4) - No Approaching Vehicle Table 12. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road out of a designated VRU lane (Figure 4) - Approaching Vehicle

In a case where the VRU 502 is in a designated VRU lane and where a vehicle 506 approaching the VRU is at least partially in the designated VRU lane devices may alert the VRU to the approaching vehicle by illuminating and flashing in front of the VRU and having an audible sound or message from devices near the VRU. Devices may also alert the vehicle of the presence of the VRU by illuminating and flashing in front of the vehicle Table 13.

Table 13. Device Alert Configuration VRU Traveling along Road (Figure 5) - Approaching Vehicle in Designated VRU Lane

Category 3 Examples - VRU crossing mid-block

Category 3 examples include a VRU crossing a road at midblock. As a VRU 602 approaches the road where the invention is deployed, at least one device 620 senses the presence of the VRU and determines the location and a direction of travel relative to the first device. The first device indicates the presence of the VRU by illuminating and sends a first independent message to devices within communication range (614, 616, 618, 620, 622, 628, 630, 632, 634, 634, 638) of the first device. The first independent message is received by devices and depending on the location and movement of the pedestrian the other devices make a determination to illuminate brighter or dimmer than the first device, flash, sound, or not alert. Table 14. shows how devices may alert in the presence of a VRU when initially detected by a device.

As the pedestrian continues to travel across the road, a second device senses the presence of the pedestrian and it locates and tracks the movement of the pedestrian and communicates a first independent message to other devices where the received message may result in an alert determination which may include a change in luminance, flashing frequency, and sound frequency. Table 14 shows how devices may alert when a second device detects the VRU by changing the illumination levels when a vehicle is not present. Table 15 shows how devices may alert when a VRU is crossing a road midblock when a vehicle is approaching. The location and movement information from multiple devices may be used in conjunction to provide improved location and movement accuracy and to enhanced alerts that convey more information to the environment, VRUs and vehicles, about the pedestrian crossing the road.

Table 14. Device Alert configuration for pedestrian crossing without a vehicle present (or before an approaching vehicle is detected)

Table 15. Device Alert configuration for pedestrian crossing with a vehicle present